Which is cheaper, flying or driving?

By: Julia Layton

Which is cheaper, flying or driving?
Image: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

About This Quiz

When contemplating vacation savings, common sense used to dictate a road trip rather than air travel. Fluctuating gas prices have thrown that assumption for a loop: Now, the comparative costs of flying and driving depend on more elements than ever. Test your knowledge of the factors that can determine which mode of transport will save you cash.
Which of these is a primary factor in determining the comparative prices of flying and driving?
car speed
number of passengers
While adding a passenger to a car has a minimal effect on the total cost of gas, adding a person to a flight manifest has a huge effect on the total cost of airfare.
time of year

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Under what circumstances will driving almost always be cheaper?
low gas prices
When gas prices are down, driving will almost always be the cheaper option since even an inexpensive ticket will cost more than filling the car tank.
either one or two people travelling
distance over 400 miles

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When gas prices go up, which is affected more dramatically -- what you pay to travel in a car or what you pay to travel in an airplane?
the car cost
What you pay at the pump more directly reflects rising gas prices than what you pay for a plane ticket.
the airplane cost
They're affected equally.

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Traveling in which type of car offers the best chance of saving over air travel?
a sports car
an SUV
a hybrid
When it comes to the overall cost of car travel, mileage is king. A hybrid can have two, three, even five times the mileage rating of a coup, sports car or SUV.

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Besides gas prices, what is the primary factor in determining how much it costs to travel by car?
driving style
vehicle speed
trip distance
The number of miles you're travelling determines not only how much you'll spend on gas, but also how much wear you put on the car, how much food you need for the trip, and whether you'll pay for overnight lodging.

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Besides ticket prices, which factors most affect how much it costs to travel by plane?
mode of transport at the destination, baggage fees, and whether they serve food on the plane
parking rates, baggage fees, and mode of transport at the destination
Rental cars, extra bags and airport parking can tack hundreds of dollars onto the cost of air travel.
parking rates, distance from home to the airport, and frequent-flyer discounts

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With how many traveling family members is driving almost always the cheaper option?
at least three
Three airplane tickets will almost always cost more than one day of expenses for a single carload of people, no matter the distance or price of gas.
at least five
at least two

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If gas prices are high and your car has poor gas mileage, what's your best chance of improving the odds that driving will still cost less than flying?
Drive slowly.
Rent a car with great gas mileage.
For long road trips, the fuel you save by driving a hybrid instead of an SUV can more than make up for the cost of the rental.
Buy a car with great gas mileage.

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If a flight from Washington, D.C., to Boston costs more than the total price of gas, how could it still end up being cheaper to fly?
tolls
In certain regions, tolls can really add up. You'll pay at least $24 in tolls to get from D.C. to Boston, which can put driving cost over the relatively cheap commuter flight.
traffic
taxes

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If traveling for business, which hidden cost can make a more-expensive flight the cheaper option?
interstate-travel fees
flight-specific tax breaks
the price of your time
In cases where time equals money, flying could end up being the cheaper option even if the prices point to driving, since going by car will usually take more time (and it's more likely you'll get work done during a flight).

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You Got:
/10
Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

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